How to Be Hopeful in a Difficult Time
Last week the Wall Street Journal printed a series of articles around Navigating the Coronavirus. Their writers’ inspiring stories got me thinking about the ways we can grow while we help others during this conflict. And, as I was writing this, it occurred to me that the ways to be hopeful are endless - an infinite number of possibilities only limited by our courage, imagination and ability to look for them. Let’s get started today with our gifts, our resources and our presence.
It’s so cool that everyone reading this is different - very human, male or female, farmers and electricians, painters and runners, children and adults, young and old, etc. Each of you is an individual and unlike anyone who has every been born. Wow, what a unique set of readers, giving and receiving from the world around you in various ways to sustain a collective hope!
Dr. Charles Snyder was known well for his research on the psychology of hope and its contribution to making the possibilities of the future a reality. He wanted to understand how hopeful people identify pathways to a better life in the face of difficulties like this virus, and how they move past their previous failures? He found that as we show hope in hard times with caring actions toward others, we build and sustain greater hope in ourselves. The hopeful things we do contributes back to our own well-being while increasing the positive values present in the situation of others.
There is no greater example than in Victor Fankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. As a survivor of Nazi concentration camps, here’s what he said:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how".”
Now, what can we do today to make a hopeful difference?
These are unique to each of us. Drawing, writing, fixing automobiles, mowing lawns, planting flowers and gardens, speaking, cooking, smiling, encouraging, listening, electrical work, plumbing, painting walls or decks, exercising, bible-studying, organizing …
What are your gifts and how can you use them to bring hope to those around you or far away? I’ve heard of families putting together encouraging signs in their yards for their neighbors. Some mowed another family’s lawn or fixed cookies (with gloves on) and placed them on doorsteps.
To keep those over a certain age from getting out, friends of mine have gone to the grocery store to get them what they need. Others gifted with an understanding of technology have managed a Zoom call to gather a family or a group of friends together.
When we think about our gifts, the options grow in an exponential way for delivering hope. What are yours and how will you use them to bring increased optimism to people and to defeat depression and pessimism?
What are they? How can they help? When you give them away, how can your assets help someone else through the difficulties of this virus and their limited freedom to move away from their homes?
- Stuff (lawnmowers, tractors, clothes, toilet paper, tools, musical instruments etc.)
Give some of it away or share it. Make it available for use. Here’s a thought. What about the delivery vehicles still serving our world: FedEx, Amazon, Post Office, UPS? Greet them with a smile. Encourage them. Give them something to drink or eat or a card to read. Brighten up their day, and lighten up yours as well, as you give to them. Send them to their next delivery point with your word or act of appreciation.
First, I want to give two words to leadership for the essential businesses still operating and their employees still working, “Show up!” Get out of the office and around your people. Be there, ask them how they are doing and just listen. It will make a HUGE difference.
If you employ yourself as a sales rep or in customer service, call your customers to see how they are doing. And that’s it! Call to find out how they are doing. You may also explain any adjustments your company is making to better serve customers, but ask for their permission to explain them.
Make a list and then write, email or text to “x” number of people a day. Send out notes of encouragement and appreciation and gratitude. Do this every day and make this activity a scheduled one.
From the same list, call “x” number of people each day. When they answer tell them, “I’m just calling to see how you’re doing.” And, then just listen. I’ve had some amazing calls doing this simple activity and doing it has caused a remarkable change in my own sense of meaning.
Get started. What can be done is endless! We can all find our way to love others during this fight. You have amazing resources within yourself. You have what it takes to make it today and to help someone else make it as well.
Be responsible and Be hopeful, and as Winston Churchill reminds us,
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word (or deed): freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.”